This is not a review. When I started this blog, I never envisioned myself ‘reviewing’ places, and still feel uncomfortable with the term. I prefer coffee experiences. And visiting the London School of Coffee was definitely an experience. The day itself was hosted by Origin roasters, who are a Cornwall-based roaster who are passionate about coffee and really look after their clients.
The day itself was split into two parts (morning and afternoon), where the morning was a talk about where coffee comes from and the evening was practical experience with the espresso machines. The School itself is really just a room kitted out with top of the range coffee making equipment. For the geeks out there, there was a La Marzocco, a San Remo and a Simonelli, as well as top of the range grinders. Holding the walls up are posters of all sorts of coffee-related charts, including tasting profiles and maps of coffee regions.
The talk went into detail about direct trade and fairtrade and the differences between them. Going through the different modes of preparation of the beans and how they are harvested is fascinating when you also consider how these can change the flavour of the finished article. It also makes it easier to understand why major coffee conglomerates are so dull: the coffee for these chains is roasted so darkly that it all tastes the same. Consistency is more important than quality. The talk went into a lot of detail about the pre-cup journey; detail that I can’t go into here without sacrificing brevity.
After that, we were given a hands-on demonstration of how to make the perfect cup of espresso-based coffee. From how to adjust the grinder to the right coarseness (something that can change regularly, even for the same beans) to how to texture milk without burning it, this went through all the stages of making a coffee in detail. Even those with a lot of experience had something to learn here and it was very fun to be able to pull shots and waste milk without a care. Though old habits of conserving milk die hard.
Of course, my hands were shaking from all the caffeine by the end of the day.
After the session had formally ended, we had a short session of experimenting with the aeropress. The new Origin Capucas (Honduras) coffee was what we were playing with to try and get the right weight to brew time ratio. I.e., how to get the best flavour out of the beans by finding out the best amount of coffee for the aeropress, and the optimum time for the water to be infused with the coffee. This can be a bit of a painstaking experiment, as it needs to be done for each new coffee that leaves the roasters. This was absolute coffee geekery, and I loved it.